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N. Korea could hand over U.S. military remains Friday

Posted July. 27, 2018 07:39,   

Updated July. 27, 2018 07:39


North Korea has received wooden boxes from the United States to be used for the transfer of the remains of American troops killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War, fueling expectations that the remains repatriation will begin on Friday, the 65th anniversary of the signing of a truce agreement.

According to multiple diplomatic sources on Thursday, North Korea took wooden boxes to be used for the remains repatriation via the truce village of Panmunjom early this week. The wooden boxed had been kept at the Freedom House at Panmunjom. If the North returns the remains in addition to its start of dismantling its Sohae launch site, it would be a concrete measure to follow up on the Singapore summit deal between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong Un.

Details about the size or route of the remains repatriation have yet to be disclosed. Considering that many of the U.S. troops’ remains were excavated in Changjin, South Hamgyong Province where a fierce battle took place, there is a possibility that a U.S. transport plane will land at the Kalma Airport in Wonsan, Gangwon Province, which is about 100 kilometers away from Changjin.

On July 17, the Stars and Stripe, a U.S. military newspaper, reported that 50 to 55 remains from the North will likely be headed to the U.S. Osan Air Base in South Korea or to Hawaii. Some people speculate that the remains will likely be transported to Osan via Panmunjom on a land route before carried to Hawaii by air, as it would still be burdensome for the North to accept a U.S. airplane into Wonsan, where there are a cluster of military units.

In-Chan Hwang hic@donga.com